As part of Covid-19 containment efforts, the closure of all mosques in Singapore will now continue until further notice.
In addition, the congregational Friday prayers will also remain suspended until further notice, or "until the situation improves".
These new measures were announced by the Islamic Religious Council (MUIS) at a press conference on Tuesday (Mar. 24).
Singapore's Mufti, Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, stated that the decisions were made unanimously by the Fatwa Committee, a group of senior religious leaders.
"When the early decision to close the mosques (was made), there were only about less than 200 cases. And based on the earlier 14-day closure, the mosques were supposed to be opened this Friday (Mar. 26). But the cases are now at 509, with two deaths. Obviously, for the Fatwa committee, it is not right for us to open the mosques."
The first announcement of the closure of mosque was announced on Mar. 12.
All mosques were to close for five days starting Mar. 13.
As of Mar. 13, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore was 200.
However, on Mar. 16, Muis announced that it will extend the five-day period closure.
The total number of cases in Singapore was 243 as of then.
But earlier today (Mar. 24), Muis announced that all mosques in Singapore will remain closed until the situation improves.
Singapore saw a total of 509 Covid-19 cases as of 5pm on Mar. 24.
Small spaces available for individual prayers in 19 mosques
As the mosques continue to remain closed, Muis, however, has opened up small spaces in 19 mosques across Singapore for individual prayers to be done.
This move is mainly targeted to working Muslims, such as taxi and private hire drivers, who may not be able to find an appropriate space to conduct their prayers.
Muis added that these spaces also allow the mosques to build up their precautionary capabilities in preparation for eventual reopening.
It also encourages the community to practice the new norms of safe distancing, reduced duration, bringing their own prayer items and not shaking hands.
No issue missing three consecutive Friday prayers
On the issue of congregational prayers, including Friday prayers, the Fatwa Committee observed that Muslim law recognises both illness and fear for one's safety as valid reasons not to hold or attend such prayers.
There is also no issue of missing three consecutive Friday prayers, as it is not obligatory under these circumstances.
The Committee also noted that under these circumstances, with the risk of infection still on the rise, it is the "responsibility of every Muslim to help keep everyone safe".
Additional support for Singapore's Muslim community
While mosques remain closed, MUIS said that essential services will still be provided to Singapore's Muslim community via alternative means.
More mosque programmes and talks will be made available through online platforms.
The list of online programmes available in the next 2 weeks is available here.
The weekly aLIVE classes will continue to be suspended and mosques will shift to online and home based learning mode for the duration of the mosque closure.
Resources for parents and students are available on this website.
As mosques play an important role in supporting low-income house, who are recipients of zakat assistance, mosques will continue to support these families during the closure period.
Social development officers and the network of mosque befrienders will continue to reach out to families on long-term zakat financial assistance.
Zakat financial assistance will remain available at the 31 Social Development Mosques.
Necessary measures are also put in place to protect the health and safety of both clients and staff of the mosques.
"Muis thanks the community for its unwavering support in these challenging times, and prays for the continued safety and wellbeing of the community and the nation."
Top image from MUIS/FB.